Did you know fear is a good thing? Did you know in a traumatizing situation, you’re not actually scared? You’re surviving. That’s what survivors do. You’re scared before and after. The fear is saving your life because it’s keeping you aware and looking for ways out. But, for some of us, the fear keeps coming. Our brains get confused and we’re trapped in this state of fight or flight. On that note…
Many of you probably know I have anxiety.
- Many of you have asked: Gracie, how do you function as a person?
So, here is a blog post on the top 6 things I do to keep my anxiety levels down to a minimum.
1.) Laugh because life is more than your problems.
I was babysitting for this group of people who come together and work through a lot of their traumas with the church. Since I babysit for them, I enjoy dinner with them ahead of time.
- Woman: Where do they get this chicken?
- Me: Brookshire Brothers Deli, but don’t ask me where that is.
- Kid I Babysit (who is 8 years old): You know, it’s right at 14100 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, TX 78676.
- Woman: How does he know that?
- Me: I don’t even know my left and rights, so I’ve got no idea.
- Woman: *No exaggeration—spits water out in laughter*
In this moment, we all bonded in laughter. For a second we were having fun at an event where enjoyment wouldn’t be the standard.
But it helps.
If you want something smart and scientifical to read, look below. Otherwise, trust me and keep scrolling.
This is not just about dopamine. Laughter causes the body to release into the bloodstream high concentrations of different hormones and neuropeptides related to feelings of happiness, bonding, tolerance, generosity, compassion and unconditional love. Let’s call this a joy cocktail. The presence of this joy cocktail precludes the production of other hormones and neuropeptides that are related to feelings of hatred, fear, violence, jealousy, aggression and the emotions associated with war and oppression. It is impossible to sustain feelings of hate and the desire to fight with someone with whom you are laughing unconditionally. Read more here.
2.) Breath, you know, because it keeps you alive.
I find in moments of extreme anxiety, I do not breath. It was my ceramic teacher who pointed this out to me when I found myself failing his class.
- Me: Tom, I can’t get the clay to work.
- Prof. Tom: It’s because you’re not breathing. You have to much tension in your body and it screws up your pieces.
This was profound. Why? Because if we are the clay in the potter’s (God’s) hands, he can’t shape us if we are so concerned over something He already has handled.
So, I started focusing on my breathing. No joke, my ceramic pieces met all the requirements a week later to keep passing the class.
Anxiety is self-sustaining. Anxiety causes a variety of physical symptoms that can be incredibly frightening. These, in turn, cause more anxiety, which ultimately leads to more physical symptoms. It’s a dreadful cycle, and a symptom that often leads to this severe anxiety is difficulty breathing. Trouble breathing can be due to a heart attack, heart failure, lung disorders and more, but breathing difficulty may also be due to anxiety – especially severe anxiety. Read more here.
3.) Spend time for yourself, but not too much.
I’m an introvert. I need time away from people, but I believe every introvert needs time with people too. We were not put on this earth to be alone. Locking yourself away because of anxiety is not healthy. A support system is incredibly necessary for our survival as a people. Not through texting, internet, and what have you. I’m talking real, in person, speaking, conversation interaction.
Social support is psychologically powerful. Actual, university-level scientific studies have found that human beings are intensely social creatures and that if they don’t feel socially supported they become more at risk for not only anxiety/stress but also physical health problems as well. So it’s no surprise that those that feel that they’re not socially supported – whether they have no friends, or they have many friends but don’t feel supported by those friends – can feel anxious. That type of isolation goes against human biology and evolution.For many with anxiety, this represents somewhat of a Catch-22. Most people do not want to feel as though they aren’t supported by others, but anxiety also makes it harder to meet others, go out, and make friendships. That’s one of the reasons that anxiety is such a challenge. Imagine living with social phobia and knowing that social support is needed to cure social phobia? It’s no wonder that so many people that feel lonely and isolated develop shyness and anxiety. Read more here.
4.) Deal with your actual issue, drugs are not the answer.
Going to medication does not solve your problem. There is a core issue when dealing with anxiety. Don’t hear me say medication is bad. What I am saying is this: Don’t take medication and not deal with the real issues.
They will only come back worse.
Don’t let anyone fool you. There aren’t any miracle quick-fix cures or “secret remedies or formulas” that eliminate anxiety. There are, however, many methods, medications, herbs, vitamins, and remedies that may help to diminish symptoms, but NONE OF THEM CURE ANXIETY. They may only help reduce symptoms, but even placebos can do that. Recovery occurs when you get the right information, help, and support, AND when you do the right work. Overcoming anxiety disorder requires making healthy behavioral change. That only occurs through guidance, effort, and perseverance. Doing this work, however, is the way through to relief from problematic anxiety. Read more here.
5.) Eat and sleep. Seriously, do something more than drink coffee in the mornings.
I don’t know that there is anything more helpful than this. Eating and sleeping a healthy amount goes a long way. I really feel there is nothing more to say here on this.
A sleep debt can have serious ramifications on your anxiety levels. One study shows that severe sleep deprivation increases one’s state of anxiety, depression, and general distress relative to those who had a normal night of sleep. Another study shows that sleep deprived individuals reported a greater increase in anxiety during tasks and rated the likelihood of potential catastrophes as higher when sleep deprived, relative to when rested. How much you sleep each night also determineshow well you can deal with anxiety and stress. When a person gets too little sleep, the deprivation acts as a chronic stressor that impairs brain functions and contributes to an overload on the body’s systems. This overload contributes to memory loss, brain fog, confusion, and depression, making it more difficult for a person to deal with stress. Furthermore, sleep deprivation creates an imbalance in hormone levels that drive anxiety levels higher. Too little sleep also boosts adrenaline levels that can exacerbate existing anxiety issues. Read more here.
6.) Looking at and sharing the “relatable” anxiety post on facebook, Pinterest, etc.
Just stop. When you are focusing on all these symptoms of anxiety, you are creating an identity for yourself. You are creating an image other than the one God has laid out before you. You are nothing accept a child who is loved by God. The God who is so perfect, it casts out all fear.
If we are told something over and over, we believe it. Especially the things we tell ourselves.
Speak the truth: We have weaknesses being filled by our fully capable Lord and Savior.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.We love because he first loved us.If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Read more here.
At the beginning of this post I said, “Fear is a good thing.” So use it to your advantage.
1 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Let God make your anxiety your strength. Let it become your intuition. Listen to what the fear is telling you.
- Is it saying you are in a bad situation and you need to get out?
- Or is it imagining a monster beneath your bed?
Sometime I don’t know, but God does, and when He fills in the cracks of my heart, I am set free of the fear.
I pray you allow Him to do the same in you.